Archive for May, 2010

Burning Man film festival in San Francisco, June 12-13, 2010

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

For those of you in San Francisco, you have the chance to celebrate Burning Man’s history via film. Films include a documentary about the artist David Best, who constructed the temple that appears on the cover of my book!

Please read the official press release below:

“Burning Man Film Festival-San Francisco: A Unique Two-Day Film Retrospective to Commemorate 25 Years of Burning

(San Francisco, May 26th, 2010)—The Official Burning Man Film Festival will showcase 20 short and feature length films when it takes place on June 12-13, 2010 in San Francisco. The Film Festival will offer theatergoers a unique look at Burning Man through the eyes of filmmakers who’ve documented various aspects of the Burning Man event and culture throughout the years. Saturday’s “Then” line-up will feature films shot between 1991 and 2004 and Sunday’s “Now” queue boasts an array of films shot from 2002 to 2010. The festival will be held at the Red Vic Movie House at 1727 Haight Street, SF, CA 94117.

“This festival is a rare and unique opportunity to see Burning Man from the beginning,” said festival co-producer David Marr. “[The Film Festival] is a chance to see how [Burning Man] was created and what effect it has on us today.”

Program highlights include a Midnight screening of Juicy Danger Meets Burning Man by David Vaisbord on Saturday evening with a cocktail party, roving performers, and a grand raffle. On Sunday, David Best, known for his elaborate temple structures at Burning Man will be available for a Q & A before the screening of The Temple Builder, a film by Dearbhla Glynn and April Blake that looks closely at David Best’s life and work.

To view the Burning Man Film Festival-San Francisco program, visit www.burningman-filmfest.com.

The Burning Man Film Festival-San Francisco is one of several special events coming up in June to kickoff a year-long celebration of 25 years of Burning Man. For more information on upcoming events, please visit www.burningman.com.”

The Great Metropolis Face-off, Burning Man vs. the Big Apple, round 7: living the dream

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

The Big Apple, thanks to a rehabbed image (i.e., I heart NY), now inspires visitors and denizens to live the dream. Visitors avidly pursue a checklist of the hot restaurants, coffee shops, clubs, museums, shows, and parks that they should patronize, lest they miss out. Others imagine that their social and cultural lives will improve with a move to the big city. For those of us who live and work here, enjoying NYC’s amenities requires effort, particularly when coping with a demanding career and other responsibilities.

Recently, two Burner friends and their 1.5 year-old baby visited NYC. Normally, we only get to visit while living and volunteering at Black Rock City, so it was interesting to duplicate some activities with them in the Big Apple.

Getting together with a bunch of people in…
…the Big Apple: everyone arrived between 20 to 40 minutes late due to public transportation, work, etc.

…Black Rock City: everyone rolls in on playa time.

Enjoying participatory art in…
…the Big Apple: We visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) where the baby’s presence triggered interactions and reactions that even the notoriously “odd” sociologist Erving Goffman or performance artist Marina Abramovic’s participatory art could not provoke. One person immediately bestowed upon my friends an extra, free ticket that they couldn’t use. Several patrons smiled at the baby, including two young women who turned away from watching Abramovic at work to interact with the baby. Two different security guards, a man and woman, both cooed at the baby. However, a few patrons displayed or verbalized their displeasure within earshot of my friends when the baby let out a few complaining noises. To soothe the baby, my friend pushed her stroller around me and Abramovic’s vehicle; she counted off the circles, in homage to one of Abramovic’s performances.

…Black Rock City: lots and lots of art, small and large, that don’t involve climate control, guards, or a bag check.

Finding a bathroom in:
…Black Rock City: relatively easy, just look for the colorful banks of portable toilets and bring your own hand sanitizer.

…the Big Apple: not-so-easy, after a fruitless stop at a fast food restaurant, we had to go to a friend’s apartment.

Learning about art-making in:
…Black Rock City: easy, just walk up to the artist and ask. Maybe s/he will give you a lesson.

…the Big Apple: possible if friend whose apartment you need to visit for the bathroom happens to be a working artist.

Commuting in:
…Black Rock City: easy to walk, bike, or hitch a ride with an art car. Bicycling is a lot of fun under the starry sky.

…the Big Apple: involves lugging a baby carriage up and down the stairs because some subway stations don’t have working elevators, triggering a group effort. No stars, unless you pass by a movie set on the way.

Our friends have returned home after a whirlwind visit; hopefully, we will get to repeat our activities in Black Rock City.

The Great Metropolis Face-off, Burning Man vs. the Big Apple, round 6: pests

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

As mentioned by a comment to a previous post, the Black Rock Desert’s environment is so arid and alkaline that it doesn’t support insect or wildlife. For visitors who normally attract mosquitoes or are squeamish about pests and vermin, the absence of such critters can be a temporary, welcome relief. On occasion, however, insects inadvertently hitch a ride in vehicles headed to Burning Man, leading to unexpected encounters. One visit to a portable toilet ended with a monstrous, dust-encrusted grasshopper clinging determinedly to my pants leg, leading to a frantic, impromptu dance on my part to shoo it off, much to the amusement of bystanders.

New York City is a different matter. Cockroaches, mice, and rats are never far away; pest control products are displayed prominently in hardware stores and prompt feverish discussion about “effective” methods among strangers. Lately, bedbugs are on the rise, as explained in overwhelmingly graphic detail by this article (warning: very high in the squick factor). Tip: never pick up furniture or wood materials from the streets – if you do decide to take something home, do a thorough inspection for unwanted guests.

Black Rock City: virtually no pests, unless you count the large sound system or the person shouting on the megaphone near-by when you’re trying to sleep.
Big Apple: many, many pests.

Urban planning and community at Burning Man

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

The Burning Man website now features blog entries by the builders and planners of Burning Man. Urban planners and residents, what elements from Burning Man would work well in everyday life?

The Great Metropolis Face-off, Burning Man vs. the Big Apple, round 5: this piggy goes through the market

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

During a stroll through Black Rock City, the flaneur encounters a mind-boggling variety of experiences, drenching the senses of sight, sound, and touch. However, the senses of smell and taste can feel diminished by the alkaline dust. The heat makes it more difficult to taste subtle flavors, so people crave more salt and spice. Pungent and refined smells are rare, save for the portable toilets or an occasional whiff of massage oil.

When walking through the Big Apple, the flaneur has unlimited opportunities to smell and taste. An intrepid gourmand can march through an alphabet of local and global cuisines, or assemble ingredients for a memorable meal. A phalanx of food carts and trucks, stalls at flea markets, farmers’ markets, and odd nooks, and restaurants offer the following wares:
- Apples, sold at the local park from a New York farm
- Bagels, the real boiled kind, not the faux, fluffy ones, and Banh mi
- Custard, frozen, in odd flavors
- Doughnuts, coated with a seasonal glaze
- Egg cream
- Falafel
- Girly cocktails and green-tea cake roll
- Hamburgers and hot dogs
- Ice cream, in exotic flavors like green tea, sesame, and wasabi
- Jerk chicken
- Knish
- Lox
- Mozzarella, smoked
- Nuggets, fake chicken
- Organic [insert your fave fruit/veg here]
- Pizza bianca
- Quirky cuisine combos, such as Jamaican-Japanese sushi; see also Shopsins
- Ramen noodles
- Steamed pork buns
- Tea, with bubbles
- Ukrainian borsht and U-Bet
- Vendy-award-winning foods
- Wagyu beef
- Xi’an cuisine: lamb burgers
- Yakitori
- Zabar’s